Eurosport - Thu, 18 Mar 18:53:00 2010
UKA head coach Charles van Commenee has raised the bar for this year's European Championships in Barcelona by setting a target of 19 medals.
Van Commenee is continuing his no-compromise approach to British athletics after announcing in December that the selection criteria for the competition would be as strict as it was for last August's World Championships in Berlin.
In Berlin Great Britain surpassed expectations to capture six medals, while the 37-strong squad returned from the World Indoor Championships with four medals, including golds for Dwain Chambers and Jessica Ennis.
The 19 medal target comes after funding body UK Sport set their sights a little lower, saying they would be happy with between ten and 15 medals from their high performance athletes.
But Van Commenee is looking for his athletes to far surpass the 11 medals, only one of which was gold courtesy of the men's 4x100m relay squad, won at the last European Championships in Gothenburg in 2006.
"A lot of the British squad have been relocating here [Lee Valley High Performance Centre] because they want to be part of something special and have a base here for the Games," said van Commenee.
"For Barcelona I want to see the best performance we have ever had for a European Championships.
"My target is 19 medals of any colour and that is a realistic aim.
"We expect the athletes to do well out there and will be disappointed if they come back with less."
Van Commenee has admitted the Europeans are to play a key part in his athletes' preparations for London 2012 - only two years away when proceedings kick off in Spain.
And the pressure is already on with UKA chief executive Niels de Vos setting athletes a target of ten medals at the home Games.
But van Commenee knows the benefits that can be reaped from being a host nation and wants to make sure the home advantage results in as many medals as possible.
"Everything is almost in place for London 2012 and the athletes know it will be their biggest opportunity to shine in their careers," he added.
"We are going to resurface the whole track area at Lee Valley High Performance Centre so that the athletes are used to it before 2012.
"As soon as we found out what surface the Olympic Stadium would be, we got it organised to be put in here with plenty of time to spare before the Games kick off.
"With exactly two years to go in the summer we should be exactly where we want to be in terms of the infrastructure in place to make the most of home advantage.
"Not all the backroom staff will get accredited for the Olympics as there are so many of them so we will use Lee Valley as a base and have them all here so the athletes have the continuity of working with their own people.
"We will make sure everything is as easy as possible for the athletes and that they are relaxed and comfortable when the Games come around."